Gallery visitors walked through art history
From Raphael to Mondrian: Art history ‘with a twist’! Lynne Robinson gave a walk-and-talk journey through the various influential movements in art history.
Lynne’s tour offered a unique insight from the perspective of someone who is an artist as well as an art historian.
She began by talking about the Renaissance, a movement which spanned between the 14th and 17th centuries in Europe. In this period subjects were typically portrayed in an idealistic way, from rural landscapes to the Madonna, while the use of iconography hinted at multiple layers of meanings. Significant technical features in Renaissance paintings included symmetry and harmony, and the ideal of everything fitting into a perfect triangle. Lynne pointed out these features reflected in Julie Whyman’s Sharing Secrets —a painting capturing the intimate moment of a child’s friendship with the waxeye bird.
We then moved on to Realism, which is recognised as the first modern movement in art history. Artists rejected traditional forms of art and replaced idealistic or biblical images with real life events and depictions of modernity. Part of the Realism movement included photorealism, where the artist attempts to reproduce an image as realistically as possible. In the gallery Lynne recognised a couple of artists who specialise in this style, namely Jane Galloway and Grant Simpson.
Impressionism was where Lynne took us next, and there were plenty of examples in the gallery she could draw from — including Liz Hart’s Tranquil Journey or Mardi O’shea’s Ports of Call, where the artists create a loose impression of a subject rather than a defined depiction. Pioneered by Claude Monet, the Impressionists led a movement which was concerned more with form and light rather than realism.
Lynne then moved to Cubism, an early 20th century movement where subjects were broken up, analysed and reassembled in an abstracted form, depicted from many viewpoints simultaneously, rather than from a singular perspective. Developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque, this style gives the impression of multiple viewpoints with distorted forms and ambiguous spatial relationships, exemplified in Stephanie Crisp’s use of collage in her Port Series, and also in Mischelle O’donnell’s Seagullible.
A lesser-known movement Lynne brought up was Japonisme, where European art was influenced by Japanese art. The techniques of Japanese printmaking were one the main sources of inspiration for Vincent Van Gogh, who became an avid collector of Japanese art. Lynne pointed out Joanne Mahoney’s original print Amaryllis Lily and Kay de Blaauw’s Ikebana Series as some examples of this movement.
Expressionism came next: originally in both poetry and painting, this movement presents the world from a subjective view, distorting it radically for emotional effect and to evoke specific moods or ideas. From the gallery Lynne drew comparisons to Dhyana Muir’s Walking Away, and Permission to Climb by Sharen Watson.
Lynne then directed the tour towards Abstraction, focusing in particular on the Russian artist and art theorist Kandinsky. Tidal Catch by Kate Madill Jones, Sunlit Trees by Wendy Walls and Boa Escalator by Kirsty Black were standout exemplars of this movement.
LYNNE Robinson gave an informative talk about contemporary masterpieces at The Little Gallery Whangamata.